Distractions are everywhere on the road, both inside and outside the vehicle. From tuning the radio to adjusting the rearview mirror, drivers are constantly battling to stay focused on the task at hand. Unsurprisingly, distractions are a leading cause of accident related injuries and death.
Ranked below are the leading cause of distracted driving related crashes in the trucking industry:
- Lost in thought: The biggest cause of distracted driving fatalities in the United States is allowing the mind to wander long enough to lead to a collision. 62% of all distracted driving related crashes are the result of being “lost in thought.” If you have ever been surprised to find you have already reaching your destination, and you do not remember the journey there, you could have been driving on “autopilot.” Drivers typically switch into autopilot on longer routes or familiar routes.
- Cellphone use: The second leading cause of death due to distraction-related car accidents is cell phone use. Texting or dialing the phone divert a driver’s eyes from the road for an extended period of time. While this distraction only accounts for 12% of distracted-related accidents, it should be taken seriously, as experts compare using a cellphone while driving to driving under the influence.
- Rubbernecking: Looking at something or someone outside of the car – like an accident – is the third leading cause of distracted driving related crashes. Curiosity can cause drivers to “rubberneck,” diverting attention from the road. Even just a quick glance can increase the likelihood of a crash. Rubbernecking accounts for 7% of distracted driving related accidents.
- Adjusting vehicle controls: Tuning the radio or adjusting the A/C are just a few examples of adjusting vehicle controls which accounts for 2% of all distracted driving related accidents. Make adjustments before starting your trip to avoid the temptation while driving.
- Eating or drinking: Eating and drinking leads to 2% of all distracted driving related crashes. From unscrewing the cap on a water bottle to reaching for another chip, eating or drinking can cause a driver to lose focus of the road. This split second distraction can have deadly consequences.
Programs and measures have been enacted to help reduce distractions on the road; however, curiosity and temptations still remain. Understanding the effects of distractions and how to avoid them will help make the road a safer place.